We’ ve just loaded up our dog after a run at the dog park and are sitting in our truck buckling up.
A car pulls up and the door opens, out come a man and his dog.
The man is old and walks with a cane. He is a heavy guy and that seems to make his walking more labored. Paddling behind him is a little but enormously overweight white dog, his black leash trailing behind him. Both the man and his dog walk, tottering from side to side, to the gate of the dog park. We pull out of the parking lot and head home.
“Why is he making that dog so fat?” I ask. There is no answer from my companion, my husband, who often doesn’t answer questions he considers esoteric or invitations to pile on.
It’s an important question to me. I may occasionally veer toward the plump myself but I hate seeing a fat dog. A fat dog isn’t healthy. A seriously fat dog is on death’s door – he can’t move without heaving. And a dog is only fat because his human has made him that way.
And why is that, you ask. Why would a human make his dog fat? Here’s why. Because making the dog happy in the moment is more important to the human than keeping the dog healthy in the long term. That sounds harsh when I say it. Maybe it is.
So I think about the old man and conjure up a life for him in my head. Maybe he was widowed and living alone and all he has is his fat dog. Maybe feeding his dog extra snacks is the only thing that makes him happy. Maybe someone gave him the dog, already fat and he has been trying hard to slim him down. I have no way of knowing. Even if we weren’t already leaving the dog park, it would be unseemly to query him. “Sir, why exactly is your dog so fat?”
Then I realize that the old man and his fat dog are at the dog park. They have come to a place where people walk and dogs run. There is a 1/3 mile trail through the little woods and so, in not much time, a mile walk can be achieved. Maybe the old man has brought his dog here so he won’t be so fat. You have to admire a person who would bring his very fat dog to a place where extremely fit and trim dogs are romping about, not to mention having to suffer the looks of the slim dogs’ owners.
So maybe the old man is working on getting his fat dog to be healthy. Or not. Maybe they go to the dog park together and come home and eat donuts as a reward for their efforts. There is no way of knowing. We can only guess. Or we can just not care which is probably the better option.